Just when you think the world can’t get weirder or sicker, a horrific news story shows that we haven’t yet reached the limit.
A South Korean court has just ruled that a couple who let their 3 month old baby starve to death while they concentrated on raising a virtual baby in the 3-D fantasy game Prius Online should have lenient sentences due to their internet addiction.
The baby, who weighted 6.4 pounds at birth, weighed only 5.5 pounds when she died, while her parents played Prius for up to 12-hours at a time nurturing a virtual baby girl who gains magical powers as she grows.
The court ruled that the sentence for the mother, age 25, and who is again pregnant with a baby due in August, be suspended. The father received a 2-year sentence.
An article by CNN quotes Kim Dong-young, a lawyer with the Korean Legal Aid Corp as saying “This is the first legal case regarding Internet addiction in Korea,” said. “I am pleased that the female defendant’s Internet addiction was taken into consideration, and she was bailed.”
The trial has shone a light on the underbelly of online gaming, which is a national pastime in South Korea. The country has over 21,500 internet cafes offering ultra high speed connectivity. While much of the world rejects the notion of internet addiction, South Koreans are concerned about gaming addiction and the effect it has on teens and marginalized groups.
Speaking to the issue, Tom Coyner, Seoul-based author of “Mastering Business in Korea”, said “it comes as no surprise to me that two people who were disconnected from society in general found a common psychological space that kept them physically and socially divorced from reality.”
As broadband connectivity, and higher access speeds become the norm, it may be time for the psychologists, psychiatrists and courts to grapple with the topic of internet addiction so we know how to proceed in advance of a case like this.